Bilal Brian
Professional Teacher
What's happening to the Italki community?

When I first joined Italki it was a welcome relief.  After having spent time on another site (which rhymes with "hide coca") Italki was a reminder that the opportunity for true language exchanges and to make new friends still exists.  However, over the last few days, I've come across notebooks and discussions in which the posters are talking about dishonest people who they've misfortune of meeting on this site.  Everything ranging from people who claim they're fluent (or native) in a language when in reality they're not to people who are asking their language partners to strip during their language exchanges.  As a result of this, users (at least many of those who posted comments to the discussions) have become distrustful, are building walls around themselves, have begun debating whether they should create a false identity and more; essentially they've decided to engage in a "pre-emptive blocking" strategy of sorts.  If this kind of sentiment spreads throughout the Italki community, Italki will lose the broad, open-space feel that it had (and still has to a certain extent).  Think about it, social media sites like Facebook and Myspace before were excellent ways to not only stay in touch with friends and loved ones, but they also served as a great platform to meet new people both at home and abroad.  Eventually though, people started to lock themselves within a bubble which limited the richness of experiences they could have.  The same thing could very well happen here which would be a shame.  Think about it, we're here (for the most part) to learn a new language and also about new cultures.  If we're continually suspicious of others and build walls around ourselves, how can we expect to accomplish the language learning goals we've set out to achieve?  I mentioned above how I've read discussions centering on shady people.  I've also come across discussions by people who are lamenting the fact that they can never find people to chat with, that people simply add friends here on Italki, but never communicate with them.  It's a shame that things are moving in this direction.  

It's true, there are people who have ulterior motives, people for whom language learning is the last thing on their minds, but do we just group everyone into that box?  If we do that, what's the point of even being on this site?

 

I can't speak for others, but I can say that I've had awesome experiences being on this site and have met some great people.  The risk is definitely worth it in my opinion. 

Dec 22, 2015 6:40 PM
Comments · 6

Well I haven't been on italki for very long. But I've been on the internet a lot for quite a number of years. As such, I find it hard to imagine that italki or anywhere else was ever devoid of creeps and cheats.

 

Maybe it's easy to say for me as a guy, since I only get a few creepy messages and most cheats pretend to speak English. But I think the best approach is to pretend they don't exist, and if you meet one anyway, just say "fck off" and block him/her. It only needs to take one minute, but you can put as much effort into it as you want.

December 22, 2015

Bilal

Good people and things are on this site. It's just that the bad things get all the press.

 

For instance I had a conversation exchange with a lady, from this site via Skype, with the video turned off.  It was a brilliant exchange and went on for a 1 1/2 hours. I learned so much. Nobody would write about such exchanges. Two people learning languages with no hidden motive. That how it should be.

 

Today I've got a lesson with my wonderful teacher 

 

In the new year, one of my language exchange partners is coming to visit us to only speak in English for 2 weeks and I will go with her to see her family and only speak in French for 2 weeks. These things don't get a mention on the discussion forums.

 

Its sad some of the things that go on and I feel it's not the sites fault. All we can do is report issues and shut these people down. Then the other members can feel safe.

 

 

 

December 23, 2015

I've always got the impression that regardless of the complains you can read on the site, everyone else, included me, does their thing and meets new people. 

 

From talking with other users, there are indeed people faking their nationality to get answers to their messages, and scammers, and the guy who suddenly whips out his genitals, so please keep in mind you are speaking from a position of male privilege (99% of our problems are instantly avoided when we don't reply to that (yearly here, daily in other sites) obvious "send me an email at" spam message. For other people, it's not so easy, and it involves realizing stuff way too late.

 

You should throw in a plea to harassers to stop harassing and scammers to stop scamming too.

December 23, 2015

Hey Seth, 

 

I agree with you.  And I think I should clarify that I think the site is wonderful, it was more a comment on the community and how people seem to be closing themselves up in some cases.  

 

I've also had the opportunity to meet language partners from this site in real life and I'm still in touch with them so for sure it's a great platform.  I just don't want to see things go in the same direction as has happened with other sites. 

December 23, 2015

Hey there!

I think the Italki is just a tool for people talking.

Not bad tool.

But who is using this tool?

Is this site really guilty?

 

December 23, 2015
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